Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Story Behind the Story - My love of architecture

Why do I sometimes become dissatisfied with our Gingerbread House in the Suburbs? It isn't for the typical reasons. You know the ones you hear - I wish I had a larger house. I wish I had more space. I wish I had a bigger back yard. I wish, I wish...

Although a little more space would be great (for now there are five of us: two adults, one rapidly growing little boy and two four-legged family members), I really just have the dream of living in a historical home. Not historical in the sense of falling down and taking years of our marriage (possibly leading to some serious arguing and thumb smashing) to restore or historical in the sense we would have to sell everything we own to afford it, but historical in the way of having a definite character. A home designed with living in mind and one that shows the love of wood and pride in the skill it took to build.

You may ask why this dream. Well, you will have to know a little about where I grew up to answer this question.

I grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River. It is called Natchez. Many people have heard of it, but only because it has a lot of history and is listed in all of the travel magazines and lists of best places to visit. My husband (from Hong Kong) had even heard of it although he had never heard of Mississippi!! Go figure.

Mississippi River Bridge (My hubby proposed near here!)
I won't go into too much detail about the town itself. You can read up on it here {Natchez}. But, I will tell you how living there fostered my love of architecture, design and homes with character.

Natchez is one of the oldest cities on the Mississippi River and actually served as the first capital in 1817 when Mississippi first became a state. It has some of the oldest structures in the South still standing including large, well preserved Antebellum homes (Pre-Civil War). {Longwood}

When I was a child in school, we didn't have the museums and zoos to tour, but we did tour these homes. I fell in love with the history at a young age. I remembered walking through those halls listening to the tour guide thinking what it must have been like during the time these homes were in use. It was like going back in time. Almost as great as reading a book and putting yourself in the pages. Most kids probably groaned about these field trips, but this future designer did not.

Living in this small town, I saw the homes on a daily basis. Not only were there the Antebellum homes, but there were also the homes on the side streets built in different architectural styles {Architectural Styles of Natchez}. Many of these homes have large porches. There is something nostalgic in me when I see a home with a porch such as these have. I imagine sitting on the porch drinking my coffee in the morning or sitting on the porch in the afternoon watching the sunset (a tall cup of iced tea is a must). It just brings me to another place. A place of relaxation and calm. Things do tend to move a little more slowly and there isn't the rush of traffic and the long commutes and believe it or not - the air is a little fresher. Don't get me wrong, living north of Atlanta has its perks. But, there is something that draws me to the thought of a simpler life.

And, if my childhood surroundings didn't do enough to foster this love of architecture, my classes in History of Architecture pushed me to a whole new level. This is when I discovered the history behind the architecture and learned the historical backgrounds of the styles. This is also when I discovered my favorite type of architecture - Arts & Crafts. I fell in love with the Greene Brothers and their California bungalows {Greene and Greene}.

Arts and Crafts Home in Atlanta 
In our future, there may be a dream home with a large porch and all of the charm that is Arts and Crafts, but for now I will be happy in my suburban home. We will work to add as much character as we can and love life one room at a time. 

Will I still dream of that house that already has a place in my head? The answer is YES. I will still dream of a home where I can sit on the porch and drink my coffee. A home with a large yard where our dogs and son can play. A home in an area that fosters our son to be a boy - a real boy -with mud, frogs and fish. And, a home that my city raised, technology loving hubby can be comfortable and still have the conveniences of the city (I will admit here that I would certainly miss my occasional Starbucks coffee and trips to the museums and malls). By the way, Natchez is not a place you will find a Starbucks. Just an FYI to all of the coffeeaholics out there reading this post.

But, until the time is right and the Lord leads, we will stay here.  We will love our home by adding character to its interior and we will continue to work to make it functional and comfortable for us. After all, the goal of any good designer is to provide a refuge at the end of the day as an escape from the busy and hectic world in which we live. I will continue to dream and perhaps that dream will come true, but until then you can read about the character we add.

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